Making friends is something that should be easy and intuitive, right? That’s the way it used to be when we were kids. All you had to do was strike up a conversation on the playground. But as we get older, making friendships becomes harder as our days fill with family, jobs, and life in general.
One of the most exciting things about being a senior in retirement is having the time and opportunity to make new friends. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do this for a while, you may be feeling a little rusty. Fear not – finding friends is easier than you think.
Why are friendships so important?
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The better part of one’s life consists of one’s friendships.” Friendships fill up our souls (and our social calendars), and for older adults, they help keep you happy, healthy and sharp.
According to the National Institute on Aging, feelings of loneliness and social isolation are linked to a variety of health and mental issues, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- A decreased immune system
- Cognitive decline
Conversely, seniors with a vibrant social life report being healthier, having better mental health, being more physically active, and even living longer.
Social interaction often declines as we age since we’re taken out of the daily routine of jobs, school and family. That’s one of the many reasons why older adults may choose to move to a senior living community. It’s a little bit like going to college, because you find yourself instantly connected to others in a similar stage of life. Senior living communities are great places to find others with common interests who are also looking for new friends to spend time with.
8 Ideas for Making New Friends
Whether living at a community or at home, here are some tips for seniors who want to meet new people in their golden years.
1. Get on Facebook. Social media is an excellent way for seniors to connect with others in their community and beyond. Approximately half of adults ages 65 and older use Facebook, making it a great platform for meeting people of all ages. You can find special-interest Facebook groups for just about anything, from hiking enthusiasts to cooking classes to virtual (and in-person) book clubs, and so much more.
2. Become a volunteer. Volunteering in your senior years provides meaning and purpose and expands your social circle as you interact with other volunteers. Organizations like VolunteerMatch can help you find organizations that align with your interests and passions.
3. Join a senior center. Senior centers provide social activities for older adults, making them good places to make new friends while also doing something you enjoy, like taking a class, going to the gym, or attending a lecture.
4. Attend religious services. Spiritual wellness is one dimension of whole-body wellness, and individuals who participate in religious services report better physical and mental health than nonreligious individuals. Going to a place of worship puts you in contact with people who have shared beliefs and values. There are also often volunteer opportunities, such as teaching children or singing in the choir, where you can meet others and form intergenerational friendships.
5. Try something new. Ever wanted to play an instrument, try your hand at woodworking, surf the waves, or sing in a choir? Expanding your horizons with a new hobby or activity puts you in contact with like-minded individuals of all ages while doing something fun and exciting, too.
6. Go to the gym. Not only will you meet others, but you’ll also get a great workout doing so. The app SilverSneakers can help you find gyms and other health and wellness activities in your area.
7. Take a class. Many universities and community colleges have classes and programs geared toward older lifelong learners, where you can find others with similar interests. Your local parks and recreation centers often have learning opportunities as well. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you or form a study group to get to know others in your class.
8. Put yourself out there. The most important tip for making new friends is to simply be open and available. Call someone you haven’t seen for a while and invite them to coffee. Reach out to someone in your gym class and ask if they would like to join you for a walk or a lecture. Say “yes” when other people invite you to do things. You may be surprised at how easy it is to form new friendships.
Explore the social side of senior living at The Terraces at Bonita Springs
We know how important friendship is, which is why every day at our senior living community is filled with programs, events, activities, and so much more. Check out our Events calendar to find your new favorite activity (and make plans to come visit us).
Making friends after 60 isn’t impossible, and it certainly doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these tips, you’ll find yourself filling your social calendar with meaningful, exciting and fun opportunities in no time.